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Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson, and EUB Member Charlie Dunn, Respond to Allegations Made by Texas Tech Chinese Faculty Group

Ariel Walden, KFYO.com

Thursday morning, a Texas Tech University Chinese faculty group sent a letter to Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson alleging racial discrimination against Lubbock Power & Light CEO Dr. Gary Zheng.

Mayor Robertson (pictured) responded to the letter saying that he would not comment on Zheng’s employment or the years of controversy surrounding him.  The mayor also said he is troubled that this group would try to create a racial issue around Zheng.

Charlie Dunn, one of the members of the Electric Utility Board, also responded with a letter of his own to the faculty group. He said that as CEO Zheng is held to a high standard as the public face of LP&L.

Mayor Robertson will further discuss this issue Friday morning during the 7a hour of Lubbock’s First News on KFYO.

You can read both Robertson and Dunn’s responses on KFYO.com

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The complete text of Mayor Glen Robertson’s response:

Daan Liang,

I received your letter concerning Gary Zheng. I will not comment on Gary’s employment or the controversy surrounding him during the last five or six years. Although I am an ex-officio member of the electric utility board, I am not a voting member. The City of Lubbock Charter is clear that the EUB has the sole authority over the employment of the CEO of our electric utility department. As a member of the EUB, a current ex-officio member and in my role as Mayor, I certainly due have opinions on the action the board should have taken. I will continue to act in my capacity as Mayor and as a board member and attempt to do what I think is in the best interest of all Lubbock citizens.

I am very troubled that you would attempt to make this a racial issue. The only mention of race in this entire issue has been made by you and your association. Your attempt to divert attention from the real issues facing Lubbock and our electrical department by making racist comments and allegations is counterproductive to finding solutions to serious problems we face as a growing and vibrant city. Instead of answering your demand, I would instead simply ask that you refrain from attempting to make this a racial issue in what appears to be preparation for future litigation.

This issue is much bigger than Gary or myself, it is about the future of our great city’s electrical generation and distribution. It has nothing to do with anybody’s ethnic background, only the ability to perform job duties. These questions can only be answered by the EUB, and I hope you will join me in an attempt to take personalities and racial allegations out of the equation.

I did reply to all in this email, but I deleted Council Members and EUB members in order to not violate state open meetings laws.

Regards,

Glen C. Robertson
Sent from my iPad

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Charlie Dunn’s response:

RESPONSE TO DAAN LIANG AND THE MEMBERS OF THE TTU CHINESE FACULTY REGARDING DR. GARY ZHENG

Dear Dr. Liang,

I am writing in response to the letter I received this date regarding Dr. Zheng. This response is mine alone and is not intended to represent the views of the Electric Utility Board or any member of the City Council of the City of Lubbock. The purpose of this letter is to provide a different prospective on your allegations regarding Mayor Robertson and his statements regarding Dr. Zheng.

As director of electric utilities for LP&L, Dr. Zheng occupies a highly paid position. He is the chief administrative officer of LP&L which has a budget exceeding $200,000,000 per year and he oversees more than 300 employees. More importantly, he is responsible to the 100,000 customers of LP&L and to the tax payers of the City of Lubbock. Because of the salary that accompanies the job, and its duties, Dr. Zheng occupies a high profile position in which the public demands excellence in execution. As such, his job performance is closely scrutinized by the media and our elected officials.  In short, Dr. Zheng is the “face” of LP&L and is held responsible and accountable for the operation of our utility.

To illustrate this relationship, I point to the difference between your job at Texas Tech and the job of Kliff Kingsbury. You are an assistant professor of engineering with a salary of approximately $100,000 per year. While you provide a valuable and indispensible service in educating engineering students, your job performance receives little public scrutiny outside of your students, your department and the College of Engineering. Kiff Kingsbury receives approximately $2,000,000 a year in salary for his services as head football coach at Texas Tech. Because of the budget of the athletic department and the television and media exposure afforded major college football, Coach Kingsbury is in the news almost every day. His job performance is graded and scrutinized on a regular basis by thousands of individuals outside of the Texas Tech Athletic Department. In short, the public demands excellence in the execution of the Texas Tech football program. Coach Kingsbury’s job comes with public exposure and that exposure is not always positive. Sometimes a football coach will be fired through no fault of his own. Although Coach Kingsbury does not take the field on Saturdays, he is the face of the program and he is the person that is held responsible when the team loses.

My point in the illustration above is that Dr. Zheng is responsible for the performance of LP&L because of his position of leadership over it. As such, he is subject to public criticism when LP&L falls short of providing the service that the taxpayers of Lubbock deserve. This would be the same if Dr. Zheng were not of Chinese origin. It is the performance of the person holding the job that is at issue and not his ancestry.

To be perfectly frank, the management of LP&L has not been up to the standards that are demanded of the position. Dr. Zheng presided over the implementation of a 10% rate increase last year which took effect in the hottest part of the summer. The rate increase was complicated by faulty billing that caused many customers to receive bills that were inaccurate. Other customers received bills that were four and five times the amount they had previously paid for electricity.  Dr. Zheng also presided over an RFP process last spring in which a consultant for one of the bidders provided a template for the RFP that was used as a starting point for the bid request that was eventually sent to the bidders. Because the bids that were received had to be thrown out because of Dr. Zheng’s error, one year of work towards providing a solution to the power needs of Lubbock was lost. In addition, the tax payers were socked with a bill of $275,000 for an investigation to determine if criminal activity occurred.

There are other areas in which Dr. Zheng’s management of LP&L has fallen short. More than two months has passed since the resignation of the assistant director of utilities and not one applicant has been interviewed for this important position. In addition, there is no apparent succession plan in place for the director of electric utilities should Dr. Zheng resign or become disabled from working. There are also significant personnel problems with LP&L staff.  The Director of Finance for LP&L recently sent a letter threatening to sue the City of Lubbock because Dr. Zheng promised him a pay raise that the city personnel department rejected as exceeding the pay guidelines for the job position.  High ranking LP&L employees have filed employee grievances that have remained unresolved for months. These management issues are not “innuendos or speculation”, these issues are factual. The public criticism of Dr. Zheng has nothing to do with his Chinese ancestry and everything to do with his job performance.

I hope this letter provides a different prospective on the issues that are facing LP&L. Please don’t hesitate to call me if you need further insight or clarification of the contents of this letter.

Respectfully,

Charles Dunn

 

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